The Rev. Canon Jan Naylor Cope
On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
When they heard these words, some in the crowd said, “This is really the prophet.” Others said, “This is the Messiah.” But some asked, “Surely the Messiah does not come from Galilee, does he? Has not the scripture said that the Messiah is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?” So there was a division in the crowd because of him. Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.
Then the temple police went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why did you not arrest him?” The police answered, “Never has anyone spoken like this!” Then the Pharisees replied, “Surely you have not been deceived too, have you? Has any one of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd, which does not know the law—they are accursed.” Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus before, and who was one of them, asked, “Our law does not judge people without first giving them a hearing to find out what they are doing, does it?” They replied, “Surely you are not also from Galilee, are you? Search and you will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee.”
There’s an old expression I heard growing up in Texas that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. In today’s gospel lesson, Jesus cries out to all who would listen, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let anyone who believes in me drink.” He goes on to speak of “…rivers of living water.” The rivers of living water serve as a metaphor for the new life Jesus offers to you and to me and to all who dare to drink.
Do you thirst for hope and some sense of calm and clarity in the midst of this coronavirus storm? I know I do! I can assure you that binge watching the news will not quench that thirst. Now seems an ideal time to drink deeply of the living waters Jesus offers to us.
The Bible is replete with so many different images of Jesus, and the one that particularly speaks to me now is that of the Good Shepherd – the one who leads us beside still waters and restores our souls; the one who leads us through the valley of the shadow of death and whose rod and staff comfort us; the one whose goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives.
In these uncertain times, remember the Good Shepherd who promised to never leave us or forsake us. This image from the Chapel of the Good Shepherd at the Cathedral always reminds me that we are never alone.
The King of love my shepherd is, whose goodness faileth never; I nothing lack if I am his, and he is mine forever.
Where streams of living water flow, my ransomed soul he leadeth, and where the verdant pastures grow, with food celestial feedeth.
And so through all the length of days thy goodness faileth never; Good Shepherd, may I sing thy praise within thy house forever.
Words by Henry Williams Baker (1821-1877), The Hymnal 1982